Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Quark of Rhetorical Questions? An Ambush of Tigers: A Wild Gathering of Collective Nouns by Betsy R. Rosenthal

Does an ambush of tigers
quietly creep
past a bed of oysters
that snores in its sleep?

Word lovers delight in coming up with clever names for groups of living things, and many of them are already familiar....

A bevy of beauties? A gaggle of geese? A pride of lions? Sure.

But what about all those lesser-known group names?

In Betsy R. Rosenthal's catalog of collective terms, An Ambush of Tigers: A Wild Gathering of Collective Nouns (Millbrook Picture Books) (Lerner/Millbrook Press, 2015), there are all kinds of names of like things. Some are familiar, like a bed of oysters or a team of oxen. Some are more arcane, such as a a parcel of penguins. Some are quite clever and fittingly comic--an intrusion of icky cockroaches, a stench of stinky skunks, and a lounge of lizards lazing in the sun. Some are simply mystifying: why is a bunch of mallards a flush? Why not a flight or a flotilla? An ambush of tigers fits the hunting style of those big cats, a stand of flamingos fits their famous one-footed stance, and a prickle of porcupines is perfect for those quill-covered critters. But who came up with a bouquet of pheasants? Isn't that supposed to be a brace... or are they a brace only when freshly dispatched by a sport shooter? And a business of flies? Go figure!

Author Betsy R. Rosenthal, ably assisted by artist Jago, has a lot of fun with all of them in her quaint and quirky quatrains with jolly meter and unpredictable but eminently pleasing rhymes, all framed as humorous rhetorical questions.

Does a pack of wolves
load up bags for vacation?
Does a cast of hawks
get a standing ovation?

When a murder of crows
leaves barely a trace,
is a sleuth of bears
hot on the case?

Jago's illustrations--a sleuth of bears with Sherlock-like magnifying glasses and a troop of kangaroos selling Girl Scout cookies--are as whimsical as Rosenthal's verses, shown in atmospheric double-page spreads which entertain and engage young readers. Rosenthal follows up with a scholarly glossary of definitions of the collective terms used in the book.

"This crash course in juxtaposition and imagination should be celebrated with a peal of bells. An inspiring addition to any poetry collection", says School Library Journal in its starred review, and the other reviewers also awarded this one a veritable firmament of stars.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home